Anthropology Department

2022-23 Anthropology Courses

This is the course schedule for Anthropology. Scroll down for more information on our exciting upper level seminars!

Fall 2022

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

ANTH 211 F01 – Makley
TuTh 13:40-15:00 VOLLUM 126           

ANTH 211 F02– Makley
TuTh 15:10-16:30 VOLLUM 126
 
ANTH 211 F03 – Sullivan
MW 13:10-14:30 LIB 203
 
ANTH 211 F04 – Sullivan
MW 14:40-16:00 LIB 203
 
ANTH 211 F05 – Brada
09:00-10:20 ELIOT 103
 
ANTH 211 F06 – Brada
10:30-11:50 ELIOT 103

Anthropology 332 - Mesoamerican Archaeology

Roche Recinos
13:10-14:30 ELIOT 216

One-unit semester course. This course serves as an introduction to the field of Mesoamerican studies, focusing on the peoples and cultures of this region that includes modern-day Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. We will explore the development of the great Olmec civilization of the Gulf Coast, the city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico, the Maya civilization in Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Aztec Empire of central Mexico. Through studying these sites and cultures, we will investigate the political organization, economy, and belief systems of these ancient people through their material culture, architecture, and texts. We will also explore the ways in which archaeology is practiced in this region, focusing in particular on the questions and techniques that have shaped our knowledge of these ancient civilizations, while also being mindful and critical of the colonial and imperialist histories of archaeology. Though this course will primarily focus on Mesoamerica’s pre-Columbian history, this course will also include frequent readings from colonial documents and modern-day ethnographies to explore how this ancient past remains relevant and impactful in the present. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Lecture-conference.

Anthropology 347 - Outbreak, Emergency, Pandemic: Anthropology of Health Systems

Brada
TuTh 13:40-15:00 VOLLUM 309

One-unit semester course. In the past few decades, infectious diseases such as HIV, Ebola, and COVID-19 have illuminated the urgency of health systems research. These mass infections have also highlighted the strengths and weakness of different health systems, while also illustrating just how complex and unwieldy public health interventions can be. Even in supposedly “developed” or “wealthy” countries, public health interventions in mass infections can exacerbate existing inequalities along lines of race, class, and gender, sharpen political antagonisms, prop up cronyism, erode existing health services by redirecting resources in ways that negatively impact public health in the process, and radically transform how individuals and groups regard themselves and others. Ethnographic research provides a critical vantage point for thinking about what health policy and health systems do and what they mean beyond their stated intentions and actions. Focusing on epidemics past, present, and future, this class will pose the following questions: What can ethnographic research illuminate about health systems, particularly health systems under immense strain? What do strategies implemented to respond to mass infections tell us about how public health policymakers view the world, and the historical and political contexts that give rise to these visions? In what ways must ethnographers modify their research methodologies to respond to outbreaks of infectious disease? We will also explore different ways anthropologists engage with health policy making and health systems reform, and critically examine the ramifications of these engagements. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 363 - Race and Transnational China

Makley
MW 13:10-14:30 VOLLUM 228

One-unit semester course. Debates about forms of perceived or imagined social difference have a long history among people who identify as Chinese, including negotiations of diasporic relations with a Chinese homeland, now claimed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Those debates took on new urgency in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for Chinese intellectuals faced with the threat of Western colonialism, the imperative to establish a sovereign nation-state, and the concomitant rise of Western modernity discourses that were grounded in notions of essential biological differences hierarchizing human “races.” Yet since the emergence of the PRC as global power in the 2010s and President Xi Jinping’s effort to extend Chinese infrastructure development and investment programs to over 70 countries worldwide, transnational China has seen reintensified debates about social difference and the meaning of Chineseness, as well as the rise of new mass-mediated Han Chinese nationalisms. In this course we engage multimedia sources (texts, videos, images) to explore these most recent debates in historical context. We do this as a way to dialogue with critical race theory, and to delve into the high-stakes interpretive politics of “race” and “racism” transnationally. As many Chinese scholars and netizens ask: are these English language terms even applicable in the very different cultural, historical, and political economic contexts of transnational China? We start with comparative theoretical debates about the nature of “race” as historically situated perceptions and claims about biological/embodied difference. We then turn to debates in recent Chinese contexts to consider for example the relationship between discourses of “race” and “nation,” the nature of “Han-ness,” the status of “ethnic minorities,” and the status of “Blackness” amidst increased Sino-African engagement. Our goal will be to expand our understandings of the stakes and contexts of cosmologies and ontologies of social difference and inequality transnationally. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 393.

Anthropology 375 - Anthropology of Science

Vaidya
TuTh 15:10-16:30 ELIOT 216

One-unit semester course. This course examines scientific practices and knowledge as cultural, social, and political phenomena. Scientific knowledge often appears to be none of these things, and so central questions of the course are how such knowledge is produced and how it is able to transcend its context. The course begins with a set of orienting texts from Kuhn, Foucault, and Latour before turning to ethnographic and historical work on science and expertise, with an emphasis on feminist and postcolonial approaches. Along the way, we ask how the questions and methods drawn from the study of science can reshape larger anthropological understandings of the political and the social. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 391 - Legal Anthropology

Vaidya
18:10-21:00 VILASE ASPEN MR

One-unit semester course. The course examines the concept of legality as a social institution and a prominent feature of popular culture. Beginning with the emergence of legal anthropology and its history within the larger discipline, the course will focus on the relationships human actors have with the law as both an embedded social institution, and a disembodied set of authoritative doctrines. The course will orient students to productive ways of studying law and legality anthropologically. Topical areas will include Rule of Law, crime and punishment, sovereignty, alternative legal institutions, colonial and postcoloniality, environmental law, and transnationality. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 432 - Archaeological Method and Theory

Roche Recinos
MW 14:40-16:00 VOLLUM 309

One-unit semester course. This course is a survey of the aims, methodology, theory, and practice of archaeology with a focus on the key questions of contemporary archaeological research. We will begin the semester by considering the broad goals of the discipline and review the diverse kinds of data that can help address questions about the past. We will then turn towards reviewing various archaeological approaches that investigate those data, focusing on methods for 1) understanding the sediment and stratigraphy of sites, 2) the materials and artifacts found therein, and 3) the contextualization of those remains within the broader landscape. In addressing these various methods, we will explore how theoretical approaches influence the kinds of questions that are asked in archaeology and the kinds of interpretations that are made. By doing so, we will emphasize throughout the semester the interdisciplinary nature of archaeology and the broad kinds of issues and topics to which it can be applied. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Lecture-conference.

Anthropology 442 - Ontological Politics

Sullivan
Tu 12:00-14:50 ELIOT 103

One-unit semester course. This course offers a critical examination of anthropology’s recent “ontological turn,” notable for the influence of such scholars as Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Challenging universalist assumptions that posit an inert and inanimate world of objects as a backdrop to human action, the study of the cultural and historical specificity of ontologies presents alternative views about the nature of what exists. Observing the things that populate, and the processes that make, the lived and known experience of anthropology’s ethnographic subjects draws attention to contrasting knowledge regimes. Consideration of alternate ontologies allows Euro-modernity’s “others” articulation of their own bases of knowledge, logics of practice, and courses of action. However, how anthropologists approach such considerations entails its own sets of political terms and stakes in knowledge production. This seminar examines anthropological debates about how to analyze and address the political tensions that arise in settings where nonmodern beings and forces are recognized and addressed by “other” political actors. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or 201 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Spring 2023

Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

Decolonizing Archaeology - Roche Recinos

S01 MW 13:10-14:30 VOLLUM 126
S02 MW 14:40-16:00 VOLLUM 126

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to expand students’ notions about just what archaeologists do and what questions archaeology can answer. Through a review of archaeology’s history, goals, theories, and methods, we will explore the ways in which archaeology is practiced, focusing in particular on the questions and techniques that shape our knowledge of the human past. In addition to dispelling misconceptions about archaeologists studying dinosaurs or ancient aliens, this course will be candid and critical of the colonial and imperialist histories of archaeology while also highlighting the positive ways in which it has been practiced. We will examine how it is that archaeologists develop ideas about the past through its material remains and the relevance of their research in the present. We will pay particular attention to the challenges and ethical dilemmas that come from collecting, studying, and displaying the material remains of ancient cultures, especially those with descendent communities in the present who have historically been marginalized by archaeology. Thinking about how archaeologists can build relationships and partner with contemporary communities will be a core component of this course. While this course is not meant to be a survey of world history, we will explore the history of archaeology through references to studies from all over the world that investigate periods ranging from prehistory to the present. Students will be encouraged to develop and pursue interests in any regions, time periods, and topics they feel drawn to and will be given frequent opportunities to explore these further through various assignments. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. No prerequisite. Conference.

Global Political Ecology - Vaidya

S03 TuTh 13:40-15:00 ELIOT 414
S04 TuTh 15:10-16:30 ELIOT 414

One-unit semester course. This course is designed to be a gateway course in the anthropology of political ecology geared toward first- and second-year students. Despite enormous scientific and political efforts, scientists and activists have found themselves unable to bring about the political changes that might reverse climate change and environmental degradation. The degradation of earth’s environment has been caused by humans, but somehow humans have not been able to stop or reverse the social processes that cause this degradation. This course examines case studies of environmental degradation at multiple scales, from Superfund sites in Oregon to deforestation in the Amazon to global climate change, to three ends: to explore fundamental questions in social theory about the relationship between humans and the world, to understand why coordinated scientific and political efforts to prevent environmental degradation have tended to fail, and to think through new political and environmental interventions that might succeed. The course readings are drawn from both environmental science and anthropology, and one of the tasks of the course is to introduce students to anthropology through the multiple ways in which the discipline has dealt with knowledge produced in the natural sciences. By putting environmental science in conversation with anthropology, we will also think through ways to reconcile the disciplines in political practice. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. No prerequisite. Conference.

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Roche Recinos
TuTh 15:10-16:30 VOLLUM 126

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

Anthropology 305 - Musical Ethnography

Luker
TuTh 09:00-10:20 PERF 332

See Music 305 Description

Anthropology 343 - African Pasts, African Futures

Brada
TuTh 12:00-13:20 ELIOT 216

One-unit semester course. This course examines the ways Africans engage the past and imagine the future. How do the slave trade, colonial rule, anticolonial resistance, the development initiatives of the Cold War era, and lingering promises of modernity figure in Africans’ perceptions, experiences, and visions of the world? The first goal of the course is to attend to the conditions of possibility that make African pasts and futures thinkable and inhabitable. We will examine the conceptions of time that have shaped Africans’ lived experiences of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, giving close attention to the material and symbolic structures these conceptions have reflected and reinforced. Our second goal is to interrogate Africa as a site of knowledge production. What would it mean to decolonize African studies, or to center Africa in planetary accounts? Drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa, our readings foreground the work of African scholars and engage themes such as the significance of “custom” and “tradition,” transformations in intergenerational relations, the ethics and politics of remembering and forgetting, the built environment as a site of memory and resistance, and the place of Africa in the world. Topics may include the politics of race and ethnicity, the appropriation of African knowledge in the colonial encounter, the consequences of colonial and postcolonial development projects, and efforts to decolonize higher education. The syllabus pairs works of empirical research with suggested contemporary African novels. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 392.

Anthropology 345 - Black Queer Diaspora

Sullivan
MW 14:40-16:00 VOLLUM 309

One-unit semester course. This course examines ethnographies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people across the Black diaspora. The history of colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade, and their ongoing aftermaths have created both interlinked and locally variant lifeways across the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Black queer studies queries the creativity and variation with which Black people have been shaped by and continuously reshape these histories, undermining presupposed norms of race, gender, and sexuality. We will look at ethnographic explorations of these particulars, differences, and commonalities as documented in texts, images, and sounds across multiple disciplines. We interrogate how conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality shift across time and space and as lived by Black social actors who both participate in and defy colonial and nationalist projects. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 395.

Anthropology 357 - Comparative Fascisms

Vaidya
W 18:10-21:00 ELIOT 416

One-unit semester course. This course attempts to provincialize the category of fascism, using it to analyze moments both historically and geographically distant from mid-twentieth-century Europe. We will begin with a set of historical apologetics and critiques from European fascists, American white supremacists, intellectuals associated with European imperialism, and right-wing nationalist intellectuals from across the globe, alongside their contemporary critics. Drawing upon the analyses we build of ideologies, tactics, and historical conditions of the various political projects, we spend the second unit of the course reading ethnographic accounts of contemporary fascist and right-wing movements from India, Europe, and the United States. We end the semester with readings from contemporary antifascist movements, comparing their analyses with those that have emerged from our readings. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 364 - The Anthropology of Global Tibet

Makley
TuTh 10:30-11:50 VOLLUM 134

One-unit semester course. Since the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India in 1959, Tibet and Tibetans have garnered emblematic status in global debates on Indigenous cultures and human rights. The widespread Tibetan unrest and subsequent military crackdown during China’s summer “Olympic year” (2007–2008) focused renewed international attention on the issue of Tibet in the face of China’s rise as an important political and economic power. Meanwhile, tightening political constraints and rapid development under president Xi Jinping have ushered in a new and complicated era for the transnational Tibetan community. Yet Tibet has long been both a cosmopolitan place and an object of translocal interest and desire. This course draws on anthropological theories of ethnicity, modernity, nationalism, space, and globalization to understand this phenomenon in its historical and ethnographic contexts. Working with a wide range of theoretical, historical, and ethnographic writings, as well as a variety of other media such as film, popular songs, websites, and blogs from in and outside of China, we consider the transnational contexts and causes of changing meanings of Tibetanness before and after Chinese Communist intervention. We focus especially on the historical and contemporary diversity among Tibetans across the Himalayan region and into the diaspora, as well as the changing political economic conditions of Chinese-Tibetan relations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or 201. Conference.

Anthropology 378 - Nature, Culture, and Environmentalism

Sullivan
MW 13:10-14:30 VOLLUM 309

One-unit semester course. This course examines canonical and contemporary anthropological treatments of the concept of nature and human relations with the natural environment. We discuss how conceptions of nature are always shaped, transformed, and produced by social relations. Course materials focus primarily on ethnographies oriented towards the intersections of political ecology, science studies, and postcolonial theory. Course topics include the history of the Western nature-culture opposition and its critics, as well as recent scholarship on such topics as food studies, the social life of forests, human-animal interactions, race and the genome, and the supposed advent of the “posthuman.” This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 397 - Media Persons Publics

Makley
TuTh 13:40-15:00 VOLLUM 234

One-unit semester course. The meteoric rise of new forms of digital data and social media in the past 20 years has generated, on the one hand, fantasies of utopic intimacy (the immediacy promised in a new “global village”), and on the other, moral panics about unprecedented estrangement (the hypermediation of virtual worlds and corporate or government “big data”). In this course, we challenge this dichotomy of intimacy/immediacy versus estrangement/mediation by taking an anthropological approach to the question of human communication. Drawing on interdisciplinary debates in philosophy, linguistic anthropology, and media studies, we develop tools for understanding all communication as both mediated and material, grounded in embodied practices and technological infrastructures and situated in historical events. This in turn will allow us to grasp how circulations of media forms and commodities participate in the creation of types of persons and publics across multiple scales of time and space. Bringing those theoretical and methodological debates into dialogue with ethnographic studies and other forms of media, we ask: How do people sense and interpret themselves, others, and their worlds? What is the boundary between the human and nonhuman in a digital age? What roles do states or transregional capitalisms play in the mediation of valued and devalued persons and publics? What are the possibilities for communication amidst great gaps in access to valued forms of media? This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 465 - Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity

Brada
W 13:10-16:00 ELIOT 419

One-unit semester course. “The subject living in pain, in poverty, or under conditions of violence or oppression,” Joel Robbins contended a decade ago, “now very often stands at the center of anthropological work.” This course examines the emergence of what Robbins calls “the suffering slot,” that is, the displacement of difference in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century anthropology as the discipline’s organizing principle, and a reorientation toward universal human vulnerability. Our concern is with how this turn has shaped both the substantive and ethical contours of anthropological investigation and ethnographic writing: What can, and ought, anthropologists know and say about the world and those who inhabit it? What can, and ought to, be the relationship between anthropologists and their objects of study? We will give particular attention to philosophical arguments that emphasize the ineffability of suffering—that is, the ways that suffering defies narrative—and the implications of these arguments for theories of subjectivity. Of particular interest is how these ideas have shaped the generic conventions that have emerged in anthropological studies of suffering, and how these conventions in turn reflect a particular moment in anthropology’s self-understanding as a discipline. This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.